Neighborhood News: Chicago UrbanMain Update


September 12, 2018 | Neighborhood News: Chicago UrbanMain Update | By Dionne Baux, Director of Urban Programs, National Main Street Center

Blog_header_NN_9-12-18.jpgWe recently toured Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood with South East Chicago Commission's Eric Reaves, Chandra Rouse of the Harvard University Graduate School of Design and David Meni from Councilwoman Brianne Nadeau's Ward 1 office in Washington, D.C.

Happy end-of-summer Neighborhood News readers! We hope you enjoyed a season filled with successes and new learnings. As fall approaches we would like to share a brief update on the National Main Street Center’s (NMSC) UrbanMain initiative and feed your curious community economic development mind with best practices and readings impacting urban corridors!  

UrbanMain, which launched in 2017 to support the unique needs of neighborhood commercial districts in urban areas, has been busy traveling across the country building relationships with local governments and neighborhood districts, showcasing Main Street’s approach to community economic development, and its impact in urban commercial corridors. UrbanMain is working in collaboration with established Main Street America Coordinating Programs, including Main Street Alabama, Michigan’s Oakland County Main Street, and the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, as well as many brand-new locales. NMSC has forged new relationships with several large metropolitans across the country--from Richmond, Virginia, to Ingleside, California--that may have been familiar with the Main Street Approach, but never thought it was an appropriate fit for their neighborhood commercial corridors. We’re also in  Salt Lake City, Utah, Charlotte, North Carolina, and most recently, Chicago, Illinois, NMSC’s home base! 

Chicago UrbanMain Update

With the generous support of two Chicago-based funders, the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation and Groupon, the National Main Street Center launched the Chicago UrbanMain program in partnership with Quad Communities Development Corporation and the 51st Street Business Association. 

Located in Chicago’s historic Bronzeville neighborhood, the Quad Communities Development Corporation (QCDC) is working to leverage community assets and external resources to support nodes of activity around a unified strategy. QCDC’s UrbanMain program will focus on the 43rd Street corridor to preserve historic resources and identify opportunities to unite nodes of business activity in the district. 

The 51st Street Business Association, at the gateway to Chicago’s Washington Park, is a hub of activity near the University of Chicago and the future Obama Presidential Center. The district’s UrbanMain program will work to create a strategy to activate the neighborhood’s substantial historic fabric and create innovative retail projects to attract residents and visitors.   

51st_street_jazz_festival.jpgNMSC's Dionne Baux and Kelly Humrichouser at the 51st Street Bronzeville Jazz Festival.

On-the-ground corridor practitioners are aware of the multitude of festivals and events that can inundate a community in the summer months, labors of love requiring all hands-on deck. Both 43rd and 51st streets leveraged local summer events in their respective corridors to communicate to residents and local partners about the upcoming UrbanMain Initiative, to build up momentum, excitement and recruit partners and volunteers to participate in the planning process at their Bronzeville Summer Nights and Bronzeville Jazz Festival.  

As the dog days of summer come to an end and the autumn season approaches, everyone starts getting back to business. In Chicago, that means both communities are ramping up to begin Phase 1 of UrbanMain programming, which includes a business mix analysis, trade area analysis, neighborhood attitude survey, staff capacity analysis and the development of key Transformation Strategies to guide revitalization work.

Applications for Chicago's second-round UrbanMain program are due October 1. Learn more.

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